The Eel Stewardship Fund is established to finance activities that contribute to a sustainable recovery of the eel stocks in European inland waterways. These activities include the restocking with glass eels and juvenile eels, the development of sustainable solutions for the catch and farming of eels and environmental and animal-friendly processing methods. The ESF is stimulating scientific research for eels and co-finances projects to unblock migratory pathways. By doing so ESF-members strive towards a sustainable conservation of the European eel and the eel sector.
Since 1950 the eel population has been under threat from pollution, natural predators like cormorants and overfishing. This caused severe damage to the natural estuaries and stocks of the eel. But the biggest challenge is formed by hydropower stations, water treatment plants and pumping stations in our inland waterways, which block the migratory pathways. Eels are born at sea and then float en masse across the Atlantic to fresh water where they continue their development. However, our European coastline is now so well-protected with flood defences that young eels have great difficulty reaching freshwater and swimming out to sea to make the return journey. As fisheries nowadays are tightly controlled and the eel industry developed new standards in order to decrease its impact on natural resources, a lot of attention goes to the restoration of the eels migratory pathways.